6 teams the Saints could call about trading for help at running back – Saints Wire

What will the New Orleans Saints do at running back? It’s one position they weren’t able to really address this offseason, with the only new addition being undrafted rookie Abram Smith out of Baylor – who joins a lineup behind Alvin Kamara featuring a late-career Mark Ingram, career special teams player Dwayne Washington, and NFL journeymen Tony Jones Jr. and Devine Ozigbo. The non-Kamara players there combined for just 418 rushing yards in 2021, so yeah, there’s room for improvement. Especially if Kamara is suspended for multiple games following an arrest in Las Vegas early this year.
But where could the Saints turn to find help? Proven, NFL-quality help? With free agency and the draft behind them, their best bet is to work a trade with another team. And Nola.com’s Jeff Duncan reports that they’ve done just that in reaching out to a number of teams to gauge interest in cutting a deal. No new arrivals to New Orleans are expected at this time, but as training camps kick off around the league and teams get a better idea of the state of their depth charts, some dominoes will start to fall.
Duncan suggested six teams as potential trade partners with the Saints, given their depth at the position, so we took a deeper look to see which players could be a plausible match with New Orleans. We’ll worry about the specifics of various trade packages and positional value another day. For now, here are our thoughts on each of those teams and their players under contract:
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Singletary is the leading rusher in this group, and Cook has a clear role as a highly-drafted rookie, so Moss is maybe the most interesting player out of the bunch. He has averaged a smooth 31.8 rushing yards per game in Buffalo’s rotation and done his best work in short yardage situations by converting a first down on 23 of 37 career attempts when needing 3 yards or fewer – a conversion rate of 62.2%, just ahead of the 60.8% that New Orleans posted last year. The Saints also called 52.5% of their carries out of the shotgun last season, where Moss has averaged half a yard more per-carry rather than from under center. He’s an efficient scheme fit who the Bills may move without much fuss (Moss was a healthy scratch in several games last year, including Buffalo’s prime-time matchup with New Orleans on Thanksgiving). It’s worth noting that the Saints tried out Duke Johnson last year following an injury to Tony Jones Jr. but opted not to sign him.
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Chubb is arguably the best running back in the NFL, which makes almost everyone listed behind him an option for a team like the Saints. We’re specifically looking at Hunt and Johnson, with the Browns coaches really liking Felton and having invested a third-day draft pick in Ford. Hunt has the larger contract but also the greater body of work, and he’s been connected to the Saints in speculative trade chatter before. Johnson broke out last year and looks like someone ready for a bigger role. Either of them would be nice pickups for the Saints, but the fact Cleveland recently re-signed Johnson as a restricted free agent suggests they’re less open to parting ways with him than other running backs on their roster.
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Miami replenished the depth chart with a series of offseason additions, leaving their top rusher (Gaskin) buried behind Edmonds, Mostert, and Michel (who met with New Orleans before signing with the Dolphins). Gaskin does have the greatest pro experience out of the players listed here, and like Moss he’s performed better running out of the shotgun (4.3 yards per carry) than out from under center (3.2 yards per carry), which fits the Saints’ preference. But he’s more reliable on passing downs with 97 career receptions. He’s also still playing on a rookie contract. The downside is that Gaskin hasn’t been very efficient or elusive despite getting a large workload, and he may not add much to the Saints depth chart besides experience.
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Could Robinson be moved? Probably not until he’s recovered from an injury, but he’s done nothing but run well in a variety of schemes and outlast the ire of Urban Meyer since turning pro. Any team would be better off with him, which would make a trade tough from Jacksonville’s perspective even if Etienne is lined up for the lion’s share of touches once healthy. Maybe the Saints are interested in a reunion with Armstead (who spent a few weeks on their practice squad last year), but he wouldn’t seem to add anything to the roster that they don’t already have. They could be scouting out the backups at the bottom of the depth chart, but Robinson is my guess for the target here.
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Baltimore’s depth chart is odd because they have several talented players coming off of serious injuries, with both Dobbins and Edwards starting training camp on the PUP list after each suffering ACL injuries. Hill is also returning from a season-ending torn Achilles. Maybe the Saints are interested in one of them once cleared medically. Davis signed with the Ravens earlier this offseason as a free agent, and Badie was a late-round draft pick, so it’s unlikely (but not impossible) one of them gets moved. I just wouldn’t expect Baltimore to be open to trading anyone away until they have a better handle on these various injury situations.
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Jacobs would be a very exciting addition for the Saints, but Drake might be the more realistic option. He’s been suggested as a trade target for New Orleans before, and it’s easy to see why given his explosive running style and value as a receiver. Drake has averaged a broken tackle once every 14.4 carries since 2018, which is impressive (for context, Kamara has achieved one of the best rates in the NFL during that same span, at 8.7). He’s also consistently run well for several different teams and coaching staffs whether leading the lineup on his own or contributing to a rotation. First-year head coach Josh McDaniels didn’t waste any time bringing in his own guys, though (signing Bolden and Abdullah), so Drake might be available.
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Christopher Jones
Christopher Jones
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